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A cockroach infestation in a Joppatowne landfill appears to be under control, but state and county agencies are investigating new complaints the insects have been found in a nearby public sewer and a private septic system.

That was the news given to about 75 people by county Health Department administrators at a community meeting Thursday night at Towne Baptist Church in Joppatowne.

Helen Richick, a member of a committee that is acting as a liaison between the citizens and government agencies, said the meeting was called by community residents because it had been several weeks since they had received an update on the infestation from state and county health agencies.

Another meeting, with both state and county officials, has been scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Towne Baptist Church.

"The roaches are no longer migrating from the landfill, but quite a few of us still have roaches. And not only that, we have baby roaches," said Richick. "They're now doing a population study."

In addition, John Goheen, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment, said Friday that county officials are investigating complaints that roaches have been sighted in a sewer line west of the Oak Avenue landfill.

"A manhole cover was popped and there were a couple of young roaches found. And in the Williams trailer park, south of the landfill, a couple were found in the distributor box, which distributes wastewater and drainage from a private community septic system," Goheen said.

"This was not unexpected. As the weather gets cold, they're trying to seek warm places for shelter."

But Goheen said state environmental workers believe the infestation of the American cockroaches in the landfill, owned by Pappy's Inc. -- formerly Stancill's Inc. -- is under control.

"We have sprayed, and the debris piles have been moved around and flattened and covered with two feet of compacted soil in an attempt to smother them," he said. "We've had no reports of sightings in the landfill, so we think we've got about 90 percent of them."

American cockroaches are not native to Maryland, but were discovered in Joppatowne in August after roaches migrated from the rubble fill into more than a dozen neighboring homes.

Richick's home was among those invaded by the roaches.

"We've had to change our lifestyle. They're in my bathroom, my bedroom and my son's bathroom," she said.

At the meeting, Richick said those attending learned that 38 homes were sprayed once with insecticide in September and 42 homes were sprayed once in October. Some homes have been sprayed as many as three times a month.

Entomologists have said a sharp cold spell should kill many of the remaining roaches.

"Unfortunately, many of us have roaches in our homes that won't be affected by the cold. This month four homes have been sprayed, and I guess a lot more will be by the end of the month," said Richick.

"But until or unless they come up with a better plan, this is supposed to be the least harmful method of getting rid of the roaches."

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